A new human resources company in San Diego is focused on helping businesses manage remote workers. The startup company Amplisal was founded by three UC San Diego professors who were looking for changes in the workplace.
They say the lessons of the pandemic have shown them that work-hour flexibility matters more to employees than working from home.
“People don’t want to be home all the time. They want a mix of at home and in the office,” said Joshua Graff Zivin, a UCSD economics professor and one of the founders of Amplisal.
Zivin said the workplace had begun to change prior to the pandemic, with computer networks and communication technology making it easier to work from home. But those changes accelerated when COVID-19 restrictions forced many people to abandon the office. Now that restrictions have eased, hybrid-work models are the likely result.
Zivin adds that having lots of women in the workplace has also helped to blur the boundaries between work and at-home life, and flexibility is what they’re looking for.
“So that people are saying: ‘You know what, I want to take my kid to school, and then work. And then pick up my kid from school and get them stationed in front of their homework, then go back to work.’ And you can’t have that in a conventional job that has you coming in at eight or nine in the morning and having you leave at five or six,” said Zivin.
He adds that managers need to realize that remote work has dramatically changed the way we work, and those changes are not going away. But, have those changes reduced worker productivity?
“What we’re seeing in our data, pretty consistently, is that there isn’t a huge productivity trade off,” said Zivin. “That is to say, by allowing you to work at home some of the time, by allowing you flexibility in hours, we are not seeing a significant drop-off in the productivity of workers.”
Zivin says managers used to think they could count the number of hours employees were sitting at their desks. He said that never was a terrific measure of productivity, and companies now need to come up with new measures of productivity that take stock of the quantity and quality of a worker’s output.